Victorian Volcanic Plains Conservation Management Network

Raising awareness about the value and use of native grasslands, seasonal wetlands, grassy woodlands & other ecosystems on the Victorian Volcanic Plains

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Woorndoo Cemetery

If you ever get to Woorndoo then it is worth visiting the local cemetery. At the end of the recent Woorndoo grassland day four of us made our way to the cemetery to see what was in flower.

There were less feather-heads than previously seen but they are still beautiful and are some of the most long-lived plants in a grassland. Yellow rush-lilies and grass lilies were sprinkled amongst the kangaroo grass.

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Encouraging Cultural Burning

At the VVPCMN steering committee last week we continued our ongoing discussion about cultural burning and what support is needed for various groups. We heard from Michael Sherwin who is on secondment with the CFA, about the current project on how to get more ecological and cultural burning happening.

The focus remains on fire suppression but with increasing urbanisation and houses encroaching into bushland there needs to be other ways of looking at how we put controlled fire back into the landscape. Working with Traditional Owners has multiple benefits and contributes to healing country.

It you are interested in this topic and are close to Newstead you may be interested in this event on Thursday 29 November at 7.30pm.  Returning cultural burning to Country – Djandak Wi

‘Come and hear Scott Falconer (Assistant Chief Fire Officer with FFMVic) share his experience in the United States and Canada where he explored the involvement of Indigenous people in land and fire management. Scott’s research was supported through The Lord Mayor’s Bushfire Appeal Churchill Fellowship. He was accompanied by Trent Nelson, Dja Dja Wurrung man and Parks Victoria Ranger Team Leader for part of the research trip’

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Putting back the rocks

In an innovative move a utility company has added some rocks back into an endangered grassy woodland and installed a new telecommunication tower at the same time. The question is why does the 2km long trench run right up the middle of this Federally listed roadside? Moorabool Council and DELWP are communicating with the company involved.

The tower is on a previously disturbed area. Utility companies need to lift their game and while they may have some exemptions they need contact Council before they start work and check what permits may be required. I hope someone has notified the Federal Authority.




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A Wake Up Call

Some of you will remember the time a few years ago, when contractors working on a roadside used a grassland as a worksite, squashed a few legless lizards and all hell seemed to break loose. For many of us while this was a very depressing incident it was the wake up call that was needed and it had a big impact.

The ramifications worked their way through many councils and other organisations and suddenly there was unprecedented and renewed interest in grasslands and grass was no longer just grass.

Many meetings were held to help people recognize endangered grasslands and understand their value and importance as habitat for a range of species and the responsibility of managing these areas. Training and procedures where improved and just about everyone knew a certain federal officer by his first name as he spent so much time on the Victorian Volcanic Plains.

This week emails  are doing the rounds highlighting inappropriate actions on roadsides. In the scheme of things people may say that this is a small insignificant incident. There are comments such as ‘need to improve protocols’, ‘lack of resources’ and many more that we have all heard before.

Have we dropped the ball? It doesn’t take long for complacency to creep in and for us to stop seeing the signs.

We are fortunate that we have people, who despite all the past incidents, knock-backs and dismissive responses, still feel passionate about grassy ecosystems. Without them grasslands would have already disappeared. Keep up the good work because we can’t afford to lose anymore grasslands and every little bit counts.














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Grassland Secrets

dowling cemetery fake flowers

“Resting peacefully”. Long shadows start to creep across the cemetery where 19th century tombs hold secrets of people long gone.

Dowling Cemetery tombs

Within our native grasslands also lie secrets. Hints of what grows within the remnant patches are truly worth exploring.  The cemetery has two types of mystery, defined by sharp mown edges.

Walking through an old cemetery that is the resting place for generations of local residents, whose families still live nearby, you can’t help but walk in a state of veneration. Not only because of the sense of time captured within a fence and wondering what people took with them to their graves, but, for what still grows around engraved messages to lives’ past. The grasslands keep a silent vigil.

dowling cemetery

Metaphorically, native grasslands are like remnants of past landscapes, akin to those who now lie under slabs of stone. Those who now lie here would have once witnessed expanses of grasslands across vast volcanic plains. As time passed, these earlier generations would have witnessed the loss of the grasslands as dramatic land use transformed the plains. So much so, that native grasslands are now, for their relatives, more of an oddity.

Gazing across tufts of Kangaroo grass, valiantly competing with exotic pasture grasses, l note subtle seasonal changes and flashes of inspiring colour, textures emerging the more l look. On my walk among the grasses and fading orchids, defying dry conditions, l come across a patch of Dianella amoena. Rough-edged, low growing, the Matted Flax Lily is threatened. Here, these plants are surrounded by memories and memorials.

dianella amoena dowling cemetery

As the headstones slowly slump and lichen makes mysteries of residents now at rest, so too does time and the risk of neglect start to hide the diverse, intricate range of plants.

While people take secrets with them to the grave, spring and summer are the perfect time of year to carefully explore and share the secrets of the grasslands. Time to enjoy the excitement of discovering something hidden among the tussocks.

Let’s venerate their subtlety, their rough textures, splatterings and splashes of colour that warmer weather brings.


A rice flower almost hidden among layers of foliage texture

forget me not dowling cemetery

Sweet Hound’s tongue, Cynoglossum suaveolens,  a member of the Forget-me not family, is a reminder to not forget our native Grasslands.


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Discover your bugs and beetles

Have you ever seen a ‘woolly bear’ or a ‘haterpillar’? Or wondered what is the difference between a bug and a beetle? Come along to the Corangamite CMA’s Discover Your Bugs and Beetles event to explore the wonders of these little creatures.

Together with Entomologists and Waterwatch specialists you will learn how to collect, sort and identify terrestrial and freshwater invertebrates from the Leigh River and surrounding riparian woodlands, and learn how sensitive these creatures are to environmental conditions.

Eurymelid bugs

There is an enormous number of invertebrates that live in the basalt plains and it’s waterways, but the majority are not recognized by most people because they were either very small or hard to find. However, these little creatures run the world, playing critical roles in maintaining healthy ecosystem functions like decomposing and recycling of organic matter, soil conditioning, pollinators of plants and agriculture crops, and biological control agents for pest species.

The Corangamite CMA will be giving away the new “Invertebrates of the Western Volcanic Plains” booklet encouraging everyone to discover the incredible world of invertebrates. This booklet is the result of two field collections by the Corangamite CMA, landholders, community members along with entomologists Paul Horne and Jessica Page from IPM Technologies Pty Ltd collected from the basalt plains at nearby Shelford.

Case Moth

Corangamite CMA catchment officer Jess Lill says all the invertebrates included in the booklet are large enough to see with the naked eye and can be found without traps or specialised equipment. We would like community members to join us for a morning discovering and identifying the terrestrial invertebrates found on the basalt plains using the new invertebrate booklet and exploring the range of habitats where these creatures live, such as under bark, in organic litter and soils.

Participants are then invited to discover what lives in the water. We will use a mix of basic tools (nets, ice-cube tray and plastic spoon) and The Waterbug App, to identify live waterbugs,”

Regional citizen science project officer Deirdre Murphy will upload the freshwater invertebrate data we collect at the Leigh River to ‘The National Waterbug Blitz’ to become part of a nationally coordinated citizen science program assessing waterway health. “Waterbugs are good biological indicators of the state of freshwater systems. Some species, such as stoneflies and mayflies, are highly sensitive to pollution while others, including beetles and bloodworms, are more tolerant. The greater number and variety of the more sensitive bugs, the healthier the water is.”

Discover your Bugs and Beetles is on Saturday 3 November, 10.00am -12.30pm, with a light lunch provided, at Federation Swinging Bridge, Crn Cambridge St and Newman St, Inverleigh. It’s a free event and supervised children are welcome to attend.

For more information or to register for this event contact Corangamite CMA’s Jess Lill on 5232 9100 or email . To learn more about National Waterbug Blitz visit

This project is supported by the Corangamite CMA though funding from the Australian Government National Landcare Program and the Victorian Government.

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Communication for Conservation

Reminder for the next SWIFFT meeting on 25 October – Communication for Conservation. It is free and you will need to book through Eventbrite. If you register then you will receive details on how to view the conference on your computer using Zoom. The usual venues will also be hosting the video conference.

Link to more details about the speakers and venues

Link to Eventbrite